Nottingham Marathon – 25.09.16

Race Report by Dave Goodwin

So on the eve of the Amsterdam marathon its only right to consider a long training run in the region of 20 miles? The popular view would be that to run a marathon properly then a long run 3 / 4 wks out would be the right thing to do. Of course the world of organised marathon training runs are so loaded into the 1st quarter of the year, when many are ramping up for the London marathon and its spring cousins. The relative drought of 20 milers in late summer means that the options are limited and the resourceful runners have to either plan routes round other races (Kenilworth Half) or buddy up for some mind sapping solo runs – 4 laps of Draycote should be illegal !

Anyway Rachel Brock said the Nottingham marathon was 3wks before Amsterdam and could represent a solid, “Just jog round and no pressure on time as long as you do ok to 20 miles and walk the rest it will be ok” type of run. (More of THAT later) Of course being up for a challenge and thinking that I could beat my 5h07 from 2015 in the Nottingham marathon I signed up.

Following a solid 21 miler at the Kenilworth Half I felt in reasonable confidence to arrive in Nottingham with a sub 5hr in the bank. One of the great things about the running world is of course the people you meet on the journey. Two years ago at the MK Half I met a Scouse guy called Gary (who since then I have followed on Twitter and had much running banter with) whilst following him to see him through 100 marathons and join the ranks of our very own Dave Phillips in the “100 Marathon Club”. Gary Dixon, the cheeky Scouse guy was planning to do the 5hr pacing, so I tagged on in the start pen and away we went. 11.15 miling would have seen us home in 4.55, so off we went with the half marathon runners into the first few miles. The 2h30 pace lady also ran with us and the runners ebbed and flowed as we got into the meat of the half. 8 miles in we had a solid group with us and I just felt so steady, conversational pace almost. Gary even gave me the 5hr flag to carry for 5 mins as he nipped off for a toilet break. Hilariously a few people asked if that was the mile splits we were aiming for. Erm hello a big sign with 5.00? 5 min miling we would win the bloody thing!

Running a dual event with a half and a full on the same day was really always going to be a race of two halves. No I REALLY mean a race of two halves i.e one half of the race you were with 6303 other runners and when the marathon peeled off at 12.5 miles you were then only on the second part of the run with 1150 others. So it felt like you did a HM jog with loads of people and a 13 m tough run with a few. Gary had by 14 miles just 3 disciples following the 5hr flag. It was at that point that the real race started. We were well into the pace and sailed into 15, 16, 18, 19. Ah ok. At 19 miles we were out to Holme Pierrepoint, the National Watersports Centre. In fact the home of my 10 mile PB, when I ran 3 ish laps of the man made lake at a Friday night race with Notts AC in 2013. I felt misty eyed as I visited the home of my 3 year old 1.25.39 triumph. Of course the nostalgia soon turned into despair as the temperature seemed to increase and the distance of the pace team went from arms length to lamppost length to oh no. They’ve gone. I didn’t even have a chance to say goodbye.

I felt so lonely with 7 miles to go in the (to give it it’s proper name) Robin Hood Marathon and a few mashed up calculations in my head thought that it was still on. 5hrs, no sweat. Just a breather here and it’ll be OK. Problem was the breather lasted a good 10 mins and the Merry Men had jogged on. As I stumbled into the shadeless gravel path and 2 miles chugging along the Trent it felt that I was giving the Sherriff of Nottingham a bloody piggy back. The energy had gone and the qtr miles, never mind the half miles were taking a dogs age. At this point I thought that Friar Tuck after a trip to the Wing Wah would have been able to proceed with more pace but I ploughed on.

The calves started to tighten and frantically tried to recalculate at 22 miles if I could beat my time of 5h07 from last year. Easy I thought – 50 mins to go. Alas the wobble continued and the other runners came further apart and the sparse marshal presence meant that it felt like a solo training run. Of course let’s not forget the idea was to do a solid training run, but at this point retiring from running forever seemed like a better option.

Mile 24 and a bit came and I calculated that sub 10 min miles would mean that I would beat the 5h07 mark. OK whatever. No chance. The last 2.5 miles were a real trudge and felt like a walk of shame along the embankment as my target no1 (sub 5 hr) and no2 (beat last year) floated away down the River Trent.

I plodded into the finish to the applause of Anne-Marie, Rich Taylor, Rachel Brock and a surprise visit from Leon and his daughters. I just wanted to creep into a hole as the finish line approached. In the last 1.6 miles I caught no other runners and nobody came past me. That’s how lonely it felt. That’s a race of two halves for you! It was so underwhelming as a finish line and the medal was given over by the most unenthusiastic marshal. Not what you need when you feel wounded about the whole thing.

On reflection this was ridiculous, I completed a marathon in one piece and 24hrs later I am feeling tired but not that achy. The sprightliness of my post run recovery is a real bonus and gives me real confidence for 3wks time in the Netherlands. I have the medal, I completed my 15th full marathon, I went to work (the first time EVER I didn’t have a day off after a marathon) and I actually felt OK. To top it all, Rachel only went and got a PB ! Excuse me I thought it was a “Just jog round and no pressure on time as long as you do ok to 20 miles and walk the rest it will be ok” type of run J

So the learnings are always make sure you have a GOLD, SILVER & BRONZE target at a marathon.

BRONZE – finish in one piece

SILVER – improve on a time target or beat last years time

GOLD – sub XX time or a PB

At the start line remember all of these are completely acceptable & as long as you get the BRONZE you’ll still be in the top 1% of the UK population that have ever ran a full marathon!